Like the saying goes, if you can’t be a good example, be a cautionary tale. The problem is, everyone thinks they’re a good example until they’re hip-deep in it, then they realize what they really are is the cautionary tale.
Remember Farmville? Remember all those annoying games that made up most your feed on Facebook about five years ago? That was Zynga. In 2011, they were flying so high they left Amazon, which was handling their cloud services, and opened up their own data centers. It seemed nothing could stop the company’s ascension.
But since 2011, Zynga’s crashed and burned. Ex-employees claimed that its CEO, Mark Pincus, told them to copy existing games were successful and that he didn’t “fucking want innovation.” Lawsuits from other game studios piled up for copyright infringement. The company laid off employees.
Now the company, in an attempt to control costs, is shutting down those datacenters and taking it back to Amazon. The move is expected to save about $100 million. Analysts say the move isn’t just because of Zynga’s failing fortunes, but the falling price of Amazon’s web services as well.
However, the news — and all news about the company’s demise — is met with schadenfreude on the part of the people who were annoyed by the constant updates of Zynga’s games and who were the targets of its business practices. Pincus is quoted as saying, with regards to the founding of Zynga:
I knew that I wanted to control my destiny, so I knew I needed revenues right fucking now. Like, I needed revenues now. So I funded the company myself but I did every horrible thing in the book to—just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this zwinky toolbar which was like, I don’t know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it. [laughs] We did anything possible just to just get revenues so that we could grow and be a real business—so control your destiny. That was a big lesson, controlling your business. So by the time we raised money we were profitable.